New England Patriots
Offense: The Patriots’ offense is as explosive, balanced and high-powered as ever going into the 2013-2014 season with All-Pro Tom Brady at the helm. Their rushing attack is buoyed by hard to tackle early down rusher Stevan Ridley. On passing downs, Shane Vereen enters and has shown the skill set to succeed in New England’s passing game. Brandon Bolden provides solid depth at the RB position.
The Patriots’ aerial attack features arguably the top TE in the game, Rob Gronkowski. Though he has undergone back surgery, all indications are that he will be fully recovered by the time the season begins. They also have another top-end TE in Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots’ passing offense is centered on these two TEs. The Patriots free agent acquisition of Danny Amendola is a high-quality substitute for Wes Welker in the slot. However, Amendola has been rather injury prone throughout his career. The WR depth in New England is solid after they drafted Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce.
Defense: The Patriots’ pass defense is their weak link. In 2012, they were in the bottom half of the league in pass defense compared to the top half in run defense. In the offseason, the Patriots’ signed SS Adrian Wilson in an attempt to shore up their secondary. Though he struggled in 2012, it is a good signing. The Patriots’ secondary has the potential to be adequate if Aqib Talib can remain healthy. The Patriots’ run defense should remain solid with Vince Wilfork plugging running lanes and LBs Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower attacking them.
Offense: The Buffalo Bills QB situation is questionable. Kevin Kolb hasn’t shown himself to be much more than a game manager and E.J. Manuel is extremely raw as a rookie. However, the Bills field a potent run game with explosive every down back C.J. Spiller. They also have Fred Jackson who can be effective in relief of Spiller. The Bills WR corps has a lot of talent with Stevie Johnson and pro-ready Robert Woods. The Bills also drafted Da’Rick Rogers who is highly-talented but has off the field questions. TE Scott Chandler isn’t flashy but he is a big target in the red zone.
Defense: The Bills defensive strength is their secondary with emerging shutdown corner Stephon Gilmore and one of the best FS in Jairus Bird. Their run defense is one of the worst in the league as their LB corps is weak. The Bills hope that their additions of Kiko Alonso and Manny Lawson will help in that area.
Offense: The Dolphins were big spenders in free agency on the offensive side of the ball. They upgraded their passing offense with the addition of speedster WR Mike Wallace and vertical threat TE Dustin Keller. Second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill should continue to improve; however, his improvement will depend heavily on the protection he receives from his LT, Jonathan Martin. The Dolphins rushing attack will be lead by second year back Lamar Miller. The Dolphins coaching staff is confident in his abilities to replace the production of Reggie Bush.
Defense: The Dolphins were also big spenders in free agency on the defensive side of the ball. In 2012, Miami’s pass defense was worse than its run defense. Miami lost CB Sean Smith to free agency and hope to adequately replace him with their signing of Brent Grimes and their draft pick Jamar Taylor. It’s important to note that Brent Grimes is coming off an Achilles injury. With these two additions, there’s no doubt that the Dolphins have added talent to their secondary. However, questions still remain heading into the season. The Dolphins run defense should remain decent with their additions of LB Daniel Ellerbe and LB Philip Wheeler.
New York Jets
Offense: The Jet’s offense in 2012 was dismal. The struggles of QB Mark Sanchez are well-known and New York hopes that their draft pick Geno Smith will present a significant upgrade at the position. The Jets also added RB Chris Ivory who should prove to be an upgrade over Shonn Greene. The Jet’s WR corps has question marks. The effort level of Santonio Holmes has been questioned, Stephen Hill is still raw as a receiver, and Jeremy Kerley is only a slot receiver. The Jets have a glaring need at the TE position with Jeff Cumberland expected to start. He is a major downgrade from departed TE Dustin Keller.
Defense: Losing Darrelle Revis has been considered a big impact on the Jet’s defense because he was their best player on defense. However, the Jet’s have done reasonably well adapting to his departure. Antonio Cromartie proved last season that he is capable of playing the shadow corner role and the Jets drafted one of the top corners in Dee Milliner. If Dee can live up to his potential, the Jet’s pass defense shouldn’t experience much of a downgrade despite losing Revis. The Jet’s run defense was middle of the road in 2012 and should remain so next season.